ARTIST President Robert Lederman and ARTIST member Jack Nesbitt were both arrested on the Highline Sunday, 12/6/09 at approximately 12:30 PM. Lederman was previously arrested on the Highline on November 21 and issued 5 summonses for vending without a Parks permit.
In today’s arrest, the artists were handcuffed by 5 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers (PEP), taken to the 6th Precinct, held in a cell, and later released with two Criminal Court summonses given to each artist for disorderly conduct and failure to comply.
Lederman and Nesbitt are both plaintiffs in a Federal lawsuit (Lederman et al v Giuliani decided in 2001) which overturned the Parks permit requirement for artists. Since 2001 visual artists may sell in all NYC Parks without needing any license or permit.
Today’s arrest was the 43rd for Lederman. He has never been convicted and has won 5 Federal lawsuits about about street artists’ First Amendment rights.
The PEP officers were led by Inspector Robert Reeves. The arresting officers stated that the arrest was directly ordered by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
A video of the arrest is available on Youtube at this address:
http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=KcHH5TwA7zw
Still photos are available here:
http://www.flickr. com/photos/ street_artist/ ?saved=1
Below are links to official Parks Department documents, the Federal court ruling and other materials proving that artists can legally sell in any NYC Park. There is also a link to materials from the Friends of the Highline website showing that it is a 100% public, city owned park.
Lederman and Nesbitt are represented by attorney Julie Milner, who plans to file a Federal civil rights lawsuit this week about these arrests. The defendants will be the City of NY, The Parks Department and the Friends of the Highline.
Robert Lederman issued the following statement after being released:
“What the public and the media should ask the Mayor, Commissioner Benepe and the Friends of the Highline is this: If this is a public park, doesn’t the First Amendment, the Federal Court rulings and the laws of the City of NY, all of which exempt First Amendment protected street artists from any license or permit, mean that you cannot keep on falsely arresting artists for not having a park permit? And if the Friends of the Highline is advertising that they have a food vending concession up there already and plan to have more, and they also sponsor numerous art shows on the Highline, how can they legally ban First Amendment protected artists? We were arrested today as criminals, but the sad reality is that we are the ones upholding the law. It is the Mayor, the Parks Commissioner and the Friends of the Highline that are committing the only criminal act associated with these arrests. They are in blatant contempt of court.”
Highline Park rules and info proving it is a public park
http://www.mediafir e.com/?jquw20znq wx
Highline Park website
Public art exhibitions on the Highline
http://www.thehighl ine.org/about/ public-art
Parks Dept memo to PEP officers on street artists being able to sell in all NYC parks
http://www.mediafir e.com/imageview. php?quickkey= zdgokmzkela& thumb=4
http://www.mediafir e.com/i/? rnnomwng1tr
Street artist Federal court rulings
http://www.mediafir e.com/?ihzato0xj ct
NY Times on Parks Department artist permit ruling
http://www.mediafir e.com/imageview. php?quickkey= n5y0mvezjjm& thumb=4
NY Post on street artists in parks Federal Court ruling
http://www.mediafir e.com/i/? fjemmnnnmom
ARTIST website (all vending laws, documents, media coverage etc regarding NYC street artists)
http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/nycstreeta rtists/
Street artist videos
http://www.youtube. com/profile? user=artistpres
Parks Dept spokesperson, Vickie Karp Issued the statement below as a response to the 11/21 arrest:
Vickie.Karp@ parks.nyc. gov
(Note that they fully acknowledge that artists can legally sell in parks.)
Parks statement QUOTE:
“The High Line is a unique public space, a thin elevated corridor at less than three acres with pathways as narrow as eight feet wide in some places. Many activities are prohibited. These include biking, skateboarding, throwing a baseball or a Frisbee, or walking a dog. The High Line can receive as many as 25,000 visitors on a busy day, walking along its long linear surface surrounded by fragile new plantings. Mr. Lederman and other vendors are able to ply their trade in hundreds of New York City parks and on hundreds of miles of city streets, where visitors can linger and enjoy their wares.”
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Media coverage of the previous Highline arrest on 11/21/09